Williams: Hard work pays off

To be a success at track and field, or any other field, nothing can substitute hard work.

That was the message from US 2005 100-metre World champion Lauryn Williams to some of Trinidad and Tobago’s young female track athletes yesterday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

Williams, whose father David was born in Charlotteville, on the North Eastern tip of Tobago, was on vacation in T&T, retracing her roots, when the National Association for Athletics Administration (NAAA) invited her to come and speak to some of the young local athletes. She graciously accepted, and was greeted by the gathering with great enthusiasm.

At the Stadium, the 26-year old athlete spent time in a mostly informal session, answering questions and giving advice to the youngsters interested in pursuing a career in athletics. She told them that although she didn’t fall in love with the sport early on, it was her natural ability, competitive nature and desire for success that made her pursue it. Success, she said, demanded it.

’What got me going was that when I wasn’t working hard, I was losing,’ Williams explained. Although she did not come from a wealthy family, Lauryn also saw that track could send her to college, and she was determined to do so.

’(I thought) if to get that all I had to do was to run around this little circle, then that’s what I’m going to do,’ she related, adding: ’that was the thing that mattered most to me’.

Soon Williams was regularly succeeding at national trials, training ’with a vengeance’ as she put it, and the 2002 World Junior 100-metre women’s champion was rewarded with success a year later when she landed the 2005 senior ’Worlds’ title.

She was injured for part of the 2006 season, but was just happy to claim second place when she returned to action at the 2007 World Championships.

’Second place never felt so good,’ she reminisced.

The highest point of her career, claims Lauryn, was triumphing at the 2004 National Championships. Her lowest? Her effort over 200m in the 2009 edition.

’It’s the first time I’ve never finished a race to the best of my ability. My coach worked hard to get met here

’I was just cruising to the line,’ she added, ’and I was so embarrassed not to finish the race knowing that I had quit on the race, that is not my character, that is not the kind of person I want to be.’

One of the things that has plagued Williams’ career has been the 100m relay at major events, three times in fact, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

’To not even carry the stick around the track is a real disappointment to all of us (on the US team). But to bounce back from that shows your character.’

That character, she told the young track hopefuls, needs to be a little ’selfish’ to achieve success.
’ Track and boys don’t mix,’ she warned with a smile.

’Groupies work both ways. When you’re doing well, everyone wants to be your friend, but not everyone has your best interest at heart.’